When Rosemarie Vujcic, Joyce Choucair and Olga Gromof started planning the first face-to-face meeting of their Careers Immersion Team (CIT) since the easing of COVID restrictions earlier this year, they resolved to put on a different kind of ‘PL.’ Forget learning modules and multiple choice questions, the teams from across the three south western Sydney clusters opted for a fully immersive experience, focused on the Western Sydney Airport and the exciting opportunities it is bringing to a rapidly-changing part of Sydney.
“We’re smack bang in the middle of that, so we thought it would be a good idea to get everyone together, hear from some of the people involved, and then go to the experience centre to learn more about what’s happening,” says Rose when we catch up with the trio over Zoom.
After a welcome and introduction, the day kicked off with a keynote from Liz Dibbs, District Commissioner – Western City at the Greater Sydney Commission. Representatives from fifteen schools, as well as a host of external partners including TAFE NSW, local councils, group training organisations and chambers of commerce, were treated to a comprehensive overview of the job opportunities being created in the area.
Interestingly, not every opportunity relates directly to Western Sydney Airport. With the government investing in infrastructure, hospital upgrades and other amenities (the CSIRO will have a new state-of-the-art facility in the area), there’s no shortage of opportunity. When it comes to skills, it’s a slightly different story.
“There are definite skills shortages in some of these areas, so while it’s great these jobs are coming, we have to make sure our students are prepared,” says Olga.
Addressing those skills shortages will require the concerted efforts of many, with the department, industry and training providers all having important roles to play. But there was a sense at the CIT meeting that things are moving in the right direction. People understand what needs to happen, and now they know what’s coming, there are real incentives to act.
“One of the aims of the day was to link education with opportunities,” says Joyce.
“We want to see students on work experience, we want to see students doing SBATs with these employers.”
If the panel discussion was anything to go by, schools may not have to wait long for the phone to ring. Panelists from ACCIONA, the CSIRO, NSW Health, Sydney Flight College, Western Sydney Airport and Woolworths were each given time to discuss opportunities within their respective organisations, and the conversation took a surprisingly competitive turn.